Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI

This morning at 11:50 EST white smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel. In the weeks after the death of Pope John Paul II, the public had shown great interest in the election of our next pope. People around the world had voiced anticipation in a reformer, someone who could strengthen the church's gains in the third world and usher the faith in to the 21st century. We got anything but.

German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, was born in 1927. He served as his predecessor's chief enforcer of church doctrine. While not technically a member of Opus Dei, he is an admitted admirer of the fundamentalist group and was their chosen candidate. Ratzinger has also taken controversial stances on political issues, including suggesting that politicians who do not oppose abortion should be denied communion (this was in reference to John Kerry) and opposing Turkish membership in the European Union.

In terms of church doctrine, Ratzinger is as far right as they get. He opposes abortion, is against women in the church, opposes birth control, and does not favour priests getting married. In this morning's Washington Post, Ratzinger was described as a brilliant, tough-minded intellectual who started out as moderately liberal and -- like so many American neoconservatives -- developed a mistrust of the left because of the student revolt of the 1960s. He once said that "the 1968 revolution" turned into "a radical attack on human freedom and dignity, a deep threat to all that is human."

Reaction to the selection has been far from positive. A poll conducted on Daily Kos shows only 1% of the site's readers approve of his selection. Meanwhile, reaction on the BBC's website has been almost as negative. Here's a brief sampling:

Choosing a conservative Pope will send the wrong message to millions of potential converts living in already overpopulated countries and those trying to cope with the Aids epidemic in Africa.
Bruce, White Rock, Canada

Why in a time of evolving consciousness and expansion of progressive thought would they choose someone who is a reactionary to be the new Pope? Well, clearly because of that fact, the conservatives of the world are trying to stem the tide of progress, equality, freedom, and diversity. Perhaps his cold efficiency will remind people that the Pope is just another politician.
Josh Borden, Santa Monica, California

Exactly what is needed - a staunch conservative to remind the world how anachronistic and outmoded the Catholic Church has become. With any luck, as those who dare to think for themselves get further alienated, perhaps there is a glimmer of hope for a world free from organised religion.
Dave, Nottingham

While most of the criticism does center around the new Pope's far right wing views, a vocal minority has expressed outrage about his youth in Germany. In fact, a few Daily Kos readers referred to him as "Natzinger" and one poster even went so far as to say "They had to elect Ratzinger today, because tomorrow is Hitler's birthday. That's a little too close to home."

The source of these comments is the fact that Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth, served in an Anti-Aircraft Unit in Munich as a teenager and was briefly a full member of the army. He fled his unit in the last days of the war and was captured by the Americans. Ratzinger, and his biographer, claim that he was never a willing member of the Nazi Party. They further argue that his time in the regime convinced him that the Church needed to stand up for truth and freedom. Opponents claim it taught him to suppress discussion - as he has during his time as chief enforcer of orthodoxy.

In essence, Cardinal Ratzinger is a reactionary who will likely be viewed with disdain by liberals around the world. As a deist, the Pope's selection has no spiritual underpinnings for me. My only experience with Catholicism came as a small child when my family traveled to Rome. Upon seeing the Papal estates, I asked my parents who owned them. Somewhat bewildered, they replied that nobody really did, but that if anyone did then it was the Pope. In the clarion voice that only children are capable of producing, I then screamed "the Pope's a poop". My family was quickly asked to leave the holy city.

Well, I may have been wrong about Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI, however, definitely appears to be a poop. In fact, the only good thing I can say about him is that at age 78 his papacy is not likely to be a long one. Thank goodness for small favours.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

For fucks sake, now you are attacking the Pope? Shameless assaults on politicians aren't enough, now you are attacking the most holy person in the world?

2:14 p.m.  
Anonymous Nylon said...

This is what kills me about Conservatives, they ethno-centric holier than thou attitude. Why is he the most holy person in the world? What makes him more holy than one of the Gran Ayatolla's? Or the Dali Lama? Or the leader of any other faith in the world? Good lord, you really have attracted some crazy trolls Gracchi.

Basically I agree, Benedict is far from what we were hoping for. I do like 'Josh Borden' from California's view. Think he might be right too...

2:28 p.m.  
Anonymous Marina said...

Could we really expect anything different? John Paul nominated almost all of the voting Cardinals, the Church has always been a far right organization, did anyone really think this would pan out differently?

Out of the leading candidates, there were only one or two acceptable people, with the vast majority being almost as bad as Ratzinger. Lets hope this teaches people something about the Roman Catholic Church.

3:02 p.m.  
Anonymous Caurus said...

People still pay attention to the Pope?

9:56 p.m.  
Blogger Walsh Writes said...

Yeah man this sucks!!

I think the church should be what I want it to be!! I wanna stoke a join in the pews and I wanna see some hot chicks in there. How about playin' some better tunes too man!

9:45 a.m.  

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